The very reverend and most revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced today that he will retire from public life. Unlike politicians, who slope off to ‘spend more time with their familiy’ when they get caught with their hand in the till, this is a man who really means it. He also deserves it. As a very secular observer I think public life will be the poorer after he steps into the wings. Here’s a man who commands respect across different cultures, races and religions and has sufficient humility to laugh at himself and enjoy sharing the joke. I’ll miss the sight of him dancing and laughing alongside the more pompous wearers of the cloth and holders of high office, most of whom take themselves far too seriously.
He is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate as well as a champion of the anti-apartheid cause and was famously quoted as saying, ‘Be nice to the whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity’. Such humility; he has spoken against AIDS denial and publicly apologised to gays and lesbians for the posture his church has adopted in respect of them. He’s also the guy who originated the phrase ‘Rainbow Nation’ when describing South Africa.
A truly great man, in the opinion of this debauched sinner.